What Do Idahoans Do When It’s Cold Out?

It’s that time of the year again when you turn on a weather forecast and hear that a winter storm is coming! You hear that this one is going to bring snow and you will could be indoors for some time if you are trying to avoid the snow. The annual snowfall in the United States averages around 25 inches a year, but southern Idaho has an average of 36 to 44 inches of snow every year. In the northern panhandle around Coeur d’Alene, you may expect around 65 inches of snow. With so much winter precipitation each year, you can expect Idahoans to know how to pass the cold months without going stir-crazy.

The first secret is that you shouldn’t spend all your time indoors. While it may seem tempting to stay as close to a heating unit as you possibly can, the landscape after a winter storm can be breathtaking and it may not be as cold as one might imagine. Bundle up and head outdoors! Take a few moments to check out how the trees are encased in ice or where your patio furniture might be hidden. Try to take a familiar hiking path and check out how different everything appears with a new layer of snow. The most important thing you can remember to do is get some sunlight every day, even if it is only through a window. This is because around 5% of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that manifests itself during the winter months due to lack of natural light. This is a type of mild depression that might be caused by an increase in melatonin, which governs sleep, and a decrease in serotonin, which governs moods. The most effective way to prevent seasonal depression is through exercise and exposure to natural light, so use that as an incentive to keep the winter weight away!

While the sun might not be working as hard to warm the landscape during the winter, Idaho’s vast geothermal hot springs keep pumping out steaming hot water. For this reason, many Idahoans will take trips to the local thermal hotspots for a winter swim. Many of these springs are located just off the highway but the more adventurous can always try to cross-country ski or snowshoe to the more remote locations, such as Goldbug Hot Springs near Salmon, Idaho, but be aware that this hike may take you up to four hours to get to your destination. This hike can be tough for those who are unprepared so bundle up in layers you can easily remove while on the trail and bring plenty of water.

Winter sports are a great way to get out of the house and into nature. Idaho is full of beautiful mountain ranges and valleys, so it is no surprise that the state is home to many winter resorts and ski slopes. In 1935, Sun Valley in Ketchum was selected to be America’s ideal skiing destination and soon after became the first resort with chair lifts. Sun Valley receives on average between 250 to 400 inches of snowfall each year and since its slopes opened in 1936, millions of winter enthusiasts have fallen in love with the resort.

One of the most popular winter sports in Idaho is snowmobiling. Since many rural towns in Idaho do not plow the roads until a few inches of snow have fallen, snowmobiles and ATVs are a popular way to get around during the winter months. Many towns have trails for all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles and many locals will be more than happy to point them out to you if you take the time to ask. You’ll also find that airline tickets to Idaho tend to be cheaper in January and February and winter is still a great time to visit. Yellowstone National Park officially closes its gates each year towards the end of September, and those who brave the trip up the mountain during the winter are free to snowshoe and snowmobile throughout the park. There are many tour guides who will take visitors on tours of the monuments, but those who bring their own transportation or wish to enter the park themselves may do so. Remember that you should still have a national park pass if you want to enter the forest. Be aware of your surroundings and keep a lookout for animals.

If Idaho’s natural splendor isn’t enough to get you away from the fireplace, then you might be interested in the Winter Carnival held every year in McCall. The 2019 carnival will take place from Friday, January 7th through Sunday, February 3rd. This festival has become an iconic Idaho event, drawing in nearly 60 thousand visitors each year. Since many Idahoans use the cold weather as an opportunity to learn new and fascinating skills, the carnival is home to some of the largest ice sculptures in the United States. Stop by to check out what the locals have been working on this year! The itinerary is loaded with fun programs and has daily events ranging from comedy shows and fireworks to snow bike and sled dog races. This event celebrates everything about winter, so bundle up tight and get ready to be amazed at some of the art and talent on display. The residents of McCall certainly don’t idle away their winters.

Just because Idaho has a snowy winter doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do. The extensive mountain ranges and deep valleys are the ideal playground for winter sports enthusiasts or for those who want a spectacular view. Next time you see a break in the forecast for winter storms, take a trip to this beautiful state to experience the colder side of mother nature. Those who find themselves braving the harsh winds and heavy snowfall will find Idaho is even more magical when it’s cold outside. As long as you are dressed warmly and ready for adventure, you won’t be disappointed.







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